Virginia Putting 2020 Behind Them As They Look To Ascend

The University of Virgina will open the season against William & Mary, a game they will be heavy favorites in. However, a win in week one doesn’t guarantee anything, something Virginia is all too familiar with looking back to last season.

After defeating Duke in week one last season, Virgina suffered four straight losses before getting back on track. Ultimately it was a very disappointing 5-5 season in Charlottesville.

At the quarterback position, Brennan Armstrong ranked 9th in the conference in passing yards. However, he was the leading rusher for the team with 552 yards on the ground. ESPN’s David Hale has ranked the UVA offensive line 1st in the conference.

It will be imperative for the Hoos’ to get ground game production from someone other than their quarterback. Last season, running back Wayne Taulapapa carried the load in the backfield but he had just 395 yards on the ground.

Looking at the 2020 season, head coach Bronco Mendenhall pits a lot of the reason behind their struggles due to COVID-19, after falling off from the level they were at in 2019

“I would view it as if we were going to a play,” said Mendenhall. “Not omitting the COVID year, but now act two is coming.”

This season should be a completely different story as COVID-19 is being put at bay at the University of Virginia.

“All students are required to be vaccinated before coming back to Charlottesville,” said Mendenhall. He then continued, “one hundred percent of my team has been vaccinated or has been granted an exemption.”

After suffering a lot of injuries in 2020, there was an emphasis on adding depth. In doing this, Virginia has been very selective with who they are adding to their roster.

“Each of the choices has been specific and intentional,” said Mendenhall.

One of those key players added was cornerback Josh Hayes, a grad transfer from North Dakota State.

“If I don’t think they can start, I won’t bring them. We’re looking to improve our play in the secondary….” said Mendenhall. He added, “we think from what we are seeing, he can do that for us.”

The help is much needed after ranking last in the conference in pass defense last season. If they can clean that area up, watch out for the Hoos’ because their rush defense was really the only stand-out area for the team last season, ranking 4th in the country.

In any event, there is one thing certain for Virginia football, they have full buy-in from their players. This is best highlighted by utility player Keytaon Thompson’s answer on what he can do for the team since he is such a wildcard.

‘”I can do whatever you need me to do. That’s the whole point. I take what my coaches give to me.”

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